“Don’t feel the need to sell yourself short, you can rise above the ordinary.” ~Sandra Bernhard
She has sustained a successful career for over thirty years and can still laugh about it. Elisa Parker speaks with comedian, actress and entertainer, Sandra Bernhard about motherhood, Roseanne Barr, absurdities and why she’s a champion for women.
A compelling performer who loves to engage her audience with personal provocative and deeply emotional content. Sandra Bernhard began her career at L.A.’s famed Comedy Store in the ‘70s, and since then has written and starred in numerous one-woman shows, acted in movies and on television, recorded albums and authored books.
Her first one-woman show, the groundbreaking Without You I’m Nothing, ran for 6 months off-Broadway in 1988 and served as inspiration for the film and Grammy-nominated album of the same name. The critically acclaimed I’m Still Here… Dammit! opened off-Broadway in 1997, moved to Broadway a year later, and was filmed for an HBO special. The New York Times described Bernhard as a “living, breathing bonfire” and applauded the show, calling it “an angst driven, foul-mouthed, poison-laced joy ride that banks and careens frenetically through the worlds of fashion, celebrity, rock, and religion.” In 2006, Bernhard’s Everything Bad and Beautiful also opened to raves. “Give the dame her due, it’s invigorating to be in the presence of a true original.” (New York Times, 6/06) Her most recent show, I Love Being Me, Don’t You? played to sold-out crowds for an extended run last summer in Los Angeles. The album version of the show was released on Rooftop Records last fall, and she has been touring it with since. “She has chutzpah to spare, but it’s her articulate intelligence that earns our attention … It’s [her] combination of glamour and accessibility that accounts for Bernhard’s enduring appeal,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
From 1991-1996 Bernhard played Nancy Bartlett—the first openly gay character on a network sitcom—on Roseanne. And she has had guest starring or recurring roles on numerous other shows, among them: Good Christian Belles, Hot in Cleveland, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Crossing Jordan, Law & Order: SVU, Will&Grace, The Sopranos, The L Word, Ally McBeal, The Larry Sanders Show, and The Richard Pryor Show. She has appeared more than 30 times on Late Night with David Letterman and has been a regular guest of Howard Stern’s since the early ‘80s.
Bernhard’s film credits include Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, for which she was awarded Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics, Nicholas Roeg’s Track 29, Hudson Hawk, Dinner Rush, and Dare.
Bernhard’s music albums include: I’m Your Woman (Polygram, 1986), Excuses for Bad Behavior (Epic, 1994) and the world music album Whatever It Takes (Mi5). She has also sung with or opened for various musical acts, including: The Pretenders, Cyndi Lauper, and the Scissor Sisters. Other notable performances include her participation in the Stormy Weather Benefit, the Rainforest Benefit, and The Elton John Tribute for Broadway Cares. “She has musicality to die for,” the L.A. Times wrote recently, “a voice that swoops from the bluesy basement to a top-floor falsetto and a campy soulfulness that can compellingly reinterpret the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady” or just go nuts with “Lady Marmalade.”
Bernhard has also written three books: Confessions of a Pretty Lady (Harper&Row, 1988), Love, Love and Love (HarperCollins, 1994), and May I Kiss You on the Lips, Miss Sandra? (William Morrow,1998). Her work has also been published in numerous magazines, including, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, Interview, and Spy.